Possum Kingdom Fishery Bounces Back

Media Contact: Robert Mauk, (940) 766-2383; icle__media__contact">Media Contact: Robert Mauk, (940) 766-2383; robert.mauk@tpwd.texas.gov

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ATHENS—Possum Kingdom Reservoir appears to have largely recovered from the effects of an outbreak of golden alga that struck the lake in spring 2010, according to the latest fish surveys conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologists.

“Largemouth bass came through the golden alga outbreak fairly well,” said biologist Robert Mauk. “The largemouth bass electrofishing catch rate was 53.5 fish per hour, which is slightly up from 49.0 per hour in the 2008 survey. Most bass were below the 16-inch legal size limit and were found throughout the reservoir. Stocking has not occurred since 2005, so the smaller bass were all naturally produced despite the occasional golden alga problems.”

 The majority of the legal bass, including four over 20 inches, were found on the main lake from Caddo Creek to the dam.

Mauk said there is an abundance of prey species in the reservoir, and the predator species such as largemouth bass appear to be taking advantage of it. “All bass were extremely fat, probably from feeding on the abundant gizzard shad population,” Mauk said. “The gizzard shad catch rate of 306.5 per hour was above the historical average of 287.9 per hour, and most shad were four to five inches in length. Bluegill numbers were down compared to recent surveys while all other species of sunfish catch rates greatly increased.”

The news for crappie anglers was good as well. Trap nets are used to survey crappie populations. “Possum Kingdom had the second-highest catch rate of white crappie at 5.7 fish per net and the highest catch rate for black crappie 0.6 at fish per net ever documented at the reservoir,” Mauk said. “Both catch rates are well above the historical averages. The populations had a good mix of all sizes from three to 12 inches, and body condition was considered excellent, especially for those over 10 inches.”

The majority of legal-sized crappie were caught in the upper reservoir near Rock Creek, mid-lake in Bee Creek and at the entrance to Bluff Creek.

Survey results on catfish were mixed, but Mauk says there are plenty of fish available. “Blue catfish abundance was slightly down from the previous survey but consisted of more legal-sized fish than in 2009,” he said. “The channel catfish catch rate was also lower than the 2009 survey. This year was the first time since 2001 that flathead catfish were sampled. The catch rates for all three catfish species was above the reservoir’s historical averages.”

Some catfish over 25 inches were captured in Caddo Creek and around Costello Island in about 30 feet of water. The Brazos River-Rock Creek area also had nice catfish.

“The bad news of the gill-netting survey was the low numbers of striped bass sampled,” Mauk said. “Their catch rate was the lowest we have seen. Apparently, last year’s golden alga kill negatively impacted the striped bass population more than other surveyed species. A majority of those sampled were seven to 11 inches in length, so they were most likely stocked in 2010. We did sample two 26-inch fish, so there are big ones available. We also sampled hybrid striped bass in the reservoir which likely came from Lake Graham when it went over the spillway.”

White bass numbers were down from the 2009 survey but were higher than they were in 2007. “Numbers are good, and anglers should enjoy catching them,” Mauk said. “We found them throughout the reservoir before they started their spring spawning run.”

TPWD Inland Fisheries management crews sample reservoirs regularly to help biologists make management and stocking decisions. Electrofishing and trap net surveys are conducted in fall, and gill netting surveys are done in January on Possum Kingdom. Electrofishing surveys examine populations of largemouth bass and prey species such as sunfish and shad. Trap net surveys look at the black and white crappie populations. Gill net surveys monitor the catfish, white and striped bass populations.

If you have any questions, please call the Wichita Falls Inland Fisheries office at (940) 766-2383 or send an e-mail to robert.mauk@tpwd.texas.gov .